5 Types of Mindfulness Meditation for Reducing Stress

Woman meditating at home
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There are plenty of mindfulness meditation techniques that can be effective for stress relief and relaxation, from traditional methods (settling into a seated position and clearing your mind) to the kinds that don't necessarily look like meditation (such as brushing your teeth or doing the dishes). Really, any activity where you stay fully present and completely, non-judgmentally rooted "in the now" can count as mindfulness meditation, and when practiced regularly, can bring the benefits of mindfulness to your life.

Whether you're new to mindfulness meditation and need tips to get started or you're an experienced practitioner seeking new techniques, we've rounded up five approaches to mindfulness meditation you can try. They all offer examples of how it’s possible to use whatever you have in your environment as a tool to help steady your mind and ease stress.

Sounds

While many people believe that a quiet environment is vital for a successful meditation session, you might feel it's more useful to focus on the sounds in your environment. It could be a metronome clicking or the washing machine whirling. Whatever it is, zero in on the tone and quality of the sound with intention. Music can also be a useful focus in mindfulness meditation, with additional benefits like energizing you in the morning or relaxing you at night.

Sensations

Paying focused, non-judgmental attention to physical sensations in your body both from the inside and outside—like your itchy hands or the feeling of your breath as it leaves your nostrils—can bring you "into the now" and lead to a deep meditative experience. Though you can practice a sensation-based technique from anywhere, one popular approach is bath meditation.

Thoughts

If you're new to meditation, one of the main hindrances is the challenge of completely clearing your mind. It’s often difficult to stop the steady stream of thoughts flowing in and out, and when you first sit down to meditate, your thoughts may get louder before they get quiet. That’s why it’s often best to label the thoughts that come to your mind, rather than engage with them. This practice can make it easier to let them go. For example, you can label a thought as "useful" or "not useful," or categorize them, such as "judgment" or "fear."

Breathing

Breathing is one of the few constants in life, with an inherent pattern—breath in, breath out—that makes it a useful tool in meditation. The very act of being aware of one’s own breath can lead to deep, satisfying breathing from your diaphragm, which can promote physical and emotional relaxation, a contrast to the short, stifled breaths from your chest that you may feel during an anxious episode.

Taste

When stressed, people often instinctively use their sense of taste as a stress reliever, whether they're munching mindlessly or satisfying sweets cravings brought on by cortisol. But the sense of taste can be a healthy, effective complement to mindfulness exercises. You can use your taste buds to become immersed in the present moment of what you're eating, like in a chocolate meditation. Focusing on taste can be an enjoyable, simple way to explore mindfulness and relaxation, but also an effective way to eat healthy overall. If you're prone to overeating, mindfulness can teach you to savor every bite until you're comfortably satiated.

A World From Verywell

Since the key to developing a strong mindfulness practice is consistency, it's best to try a variety of techniques and find the method or methods that work best for you. Remember that you don't need a fancy setup—look to nearby sounds, sensations, tastes, and your own mind and body to help alleviate stress and increase relaxation.

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